19 Oct 2023
CIH’s new president, Jill Murray BA FCIH, tells us more about her presidential campaign, Be EPIC, and what members and the wider sector can do to get involved.
My campaign to the sector is for everyone to “Be EPIC”. That’s an acronym which stands for: be Educated, be Professional, be In control of your own destiny, and be a Chartered Institute of Housing member.
Be In control:
My Be EPIC campaign is really important because no matter who you are, home is the place where everything begins and if you work hard, you can literally achieve anything you want, no matter where you come from.
If hearing my story inspires just one more person to make a positive contribution...to be a better housing professional or a better person in the world, then it’s worth it.
Because housing is a career of choice. Although many of us fell into this profession, it’s a profession to be really proud of. So, that’s what I’m campaigning for, actually its more of a call to action than a campaign! It’s specifically for people working in the housing sector to be proud to be professional.
I’ve always believed in professionalism, and how the technical competencies of the role have to be married up with the personal competencies. This isn’t something new, just because it’s been mandated in recent years.
This is something that I set my strategic journey upon when I became chief executive [of Byker Community Trust housing association], that every job advert, every job description, every personal specification, every appraisal, that the personal competencies required for every role, were just as important as the technical competencies. That led to the success of that organisation and to its successful transformational change, the culture, which wasn’t just within the organisation, it was actually congruent with the communities which we served.
So, it’s really important, not just because it’s been mandated as part of the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill, but quite simply, it’s because this is who I am, and it drives what I do. It’s something which I passionately believe in.
There are so many opportunities in housing to make a positive difference to peoples lives. This isn’t just talking about helping tenants with rent arrears and benefits. It's about dealing with things like hate crime, it’s about dealing with crisis situations, supporting people, helping digital inclusion agendas...
Through the COVID pandemic particularly, I think we took another step on the ladder and became the fourth emergency service. We were literally contacting everyone who was vulnerable or isolated or alone every day. Every single day the our staff did that. Who else did that?. Housing is a fantastic career.
Everything. Housing has opened doors for me, it’s given me new challenges, it’s inspired me, and it’s given me the energy and the passion to go on and energise others.
I have chosen to raise money for Action for Children, a charity created to help vulnerable or disabled children, young people and their families throughout the UK. Their vision is that every child and young person has a safe and happy childhood, and the foundations they need to thrive.
Too many children are growing up with their families struggling to make ends meet, and statistics released in July of this year demonstrate that child poverty numbers throughout the UK have been continually rising.
This is why building foundations for children to have a happy, healthy and supported life, fits incredibly with Be EPIC. I would like to thank everyone who is kind enough to make a donation to this wonderful charity because it will make a positive difference to the life of a child.”
Unless we look after our kids, what future have we got? As a country at the moment, that’s not happening. Child poverty levels are going up year on year in the North East where I come from– they are the highest in the United Kingdom. 35% of our children are living in poverty, and the crime sitting behind that is that two-thirds of that number are living in working households.
So, it’s not good enough to churn out unemployment levels, because actually, a lot of these families that are working are not getting a decent wage, [not getting] enough to take them out of deprivation.
That’s the work that Action for Children does, working with families in the most deprived neighbourhoods who are living in poverty, with the families of disabled children; not just as a one-stop shop, but with a sustainable plan with each family, with each child, to support them until they become self-regenerative and self-sufficient.